Proposed rendering of 1403-25 Emerson St. Image from City of Evanston materials

Proposed rendering of 1403-25 Emerson St.
Image from City of Evanston materials

Developers began a preliminary concept review for several Fifth Ward parcels at a meeting of the Design and Project Review (DAPR) committee on March 20. Under the concept proposal, parcels at 1403-1425 Emerson St., 1917-1925 Jackson Ave., 1323 Emerson St. and 1503 Emerson St. would be utilized for rental-apartment buildings. One building would be located along Jackson Avenue; the other would be along Emerson Street.

No formal application has yet been filed with the City for the development, which would be proposed by Chicago-based Doramus Development. Principals working on the project said that they were committed to hearing citizen comments before submitting a formal proposal to City planning authorities.

There was little enthusiasm registered for the project at the March 20 DAPR meeting; many audience members said they were concerned about the loss of single-family homes on the parcels. Others criticized the scale of the apartment complexes, each of which would be five stories, and said the buildings would in effect create “walls” along Emerson Street and Jackson Avenue.

Fifth Ward Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, in whose ward the project resides, said she was less enthusiastic about the project once she learned that it would consist of rental units, adding that she would prefer developments affording residents the opportunity for home ownership.

An audience member criticized Ald. Rue Simmons for secretly conversing with developers about the project and failing to set a timely announcement for the discussion. Ald. Rue Simmons emphasized that she put developers in touch with DAPR committee officials promptly once the developers reached out to her. The meeting was adjourned about 10 minutes early by Committee Chair Johanna Leonard, when an audience member became irate when describing her concerns about gentrification and housing affordability.

Community feedback will also be gathered at an April 10 Fifth Ward meeting hosted by Ald. Rue Simmons at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center. The tentative plans are available online at https://www.cityofevanston.org/home/showdocument?id=47421.